Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A theatrical approach to experience design...

... is exactly what this PDF from ExperienceDesign advocates, and after flipping through 20 pages of informative and entertaining, I think this is a great way to re-frame the debate over how to improve customer experiences at retail. While probably not new to anybody who has spent a long time in the industry (I haven't), the tips in this introductory piece are thoughtful and insightful.

The root of the argument is that many parts of a retailer's environment are analogous to stage theatrics, from sales floor (stage) to personnel (actors) to customer base (audience), and by taking some cues from the theater world -- where the entire point of the gig is to entertain and have the audience begging for more by the end of the show -- retailers might just be able to give their customers a more satisfying experience.

The tips are divided into three broad categories (or acts, if you're trying to keep up with the theatrical lingo), each with four main points (scenes):

  • Act I, Scene 1. Storyboarding: Boom-wowowow-BOOM!: Your first impression should be fantastic, but your last one needs to be spectacular.
  • Act I, Scene 2. The making of: Show off hidden values so that customers get a fuller understanding and appreciation of the products/services you're providing.
  • Act I, Scene 3. Prequels and sequels: Extend customer contacts outside the store and after the last in-store contact to build a lasting relationship.
  • Act I, Scene. 4. Depth: finding beauty, authenticity and meaning: Cater to your customers' values, not just their wallets.
  • Act II, Scene 1. Stage building: Use store architecture to further convey the core brand message.
  • Act II, Scene 2. Backstage and exits: Likewise, always draw attention towards the meaningful parts of the environment.
  • Act II, Scene 3. Let there be light: Lighting can make good things look better and bad things look worse. Use it liberally but wisely.
  • Act II, Scene 4. Costume: Your staff's uniform, whether formal or informal, communicates your brand position as well, so make sure you know what it's saying.
  • Act III, Scene 1. Rehearse: If your store is beautiful but your staff is untrained, unenthusiastic, or just plain inept, people will notice and avoid you like the plague.
  • Act III, Scene 2. Get the lines right: Are there wrote lines that your staff delivers 100 times a day? Could they maybe be a little better/more informative/more fun than they are right now?
  • Act III, Scene 3. Let stars be stars: Everyone on your team has some character, so let it stand out. As a corollary to this, be honest, not fake.
  • Act III, Scene 4. Timing is everything: Knowing when to deliver the punch line, whether it be a complement, critique, or simply presenting the evening's bill, can be just as important as knowing what to say.

Tags: store design, experience, experiential marketing

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